SALT LAKE CITY — Online dating has taken a turn for increased convenience, thanks to popular dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. Although hopping on your computer or mobile browser and logging into your Match account to find your next love interest was pretty easy to begin with, now it’s become even easier with the rise of dating apps.
The push notifications, tailored mobile experience, and quick access offered by apps have made dating quicker and simpler than it’s ever been before. And let’s not forget that the rise of new dating apps has also encouraged traditional sites like EHarmony, Match.com, and Plenty of Fish to hop on the mobile bandwagon and create apps for their services as well.
Like the introduction of online dating, the arrival of dating apps presents a variety of unique benefits and potential issues. Although this unprecedented convenience is fantastic for individuals looking to keep up on their personal lives while balancing professional responsibilities, it also creates more potential risks for dating app users. Naturally, with the greater convenience from meeting someone online comes greater possibility for anonymity. That’s where things get a bit more dangerous.
If you’re currently using or thinking about trying an online dating app or two to liven up your love life, safety is key. Here are five tech tips to help you have a safer experience with dating apps.
1. Limit distance and age range
One of the benefits of online dating is the ability to expand your dating pool a bit. Although it’s great to get a chance to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise run into at the gym or the store, trying to meet others too far outside of your city can get a bit dangerous.
Experts recommend keeping your distance range around 10 miles on dating apps. This will make it easier for you to pick a midway meeting spot that you’re more familiar with to alleviate the risks involved with meeting your date somewhere outside of your comfort zone.
It’s also recommended to keep your age limit within five years on either end of your age to avoid additional risks.
2. Enlist apps to weed out catfish
Catfishing isn’t a new problem, but it’s certainly one that is perpetuated by the creation of additional tech resources for dating. Fortunately, as additional avenues are created for potential catfishers, tech solutions to catch them are arriving as well.
Tin Eye is a solution that helps online daters catch catfishers before they fall for their tricks. You can simply upload a dating prospect’s image to Tin Eye to see where else it shows up online. If it’s linked to other social accounts under multiple names, you’ve probably caught a catfish.
3. Look for red flags online
We’re all guilty of doing a little online stalking of the people we’re currently dating or considering going out with. Although the concept of checking out potential dates prior to your first outing might seem a little overboard, it’s actually a very smart move — especially when it comes to dating someone you’ve only spoken with online.
Checking out a dating prospect’s social media profiles before you go out with them is a good first step. Look for red flags that might lead you to believe they aren’t who they say they are. Things like profiles full of spam or creepy interactions with other men or women on Facebook or Instagram in their recent activity might indicate trouble.
If they’ve passed the social media check but you’re still feeling skeptical, you might want to look a little further into their background. You can use a variety of free public record resources to conduct additional research.
4. Check for mutual friends on social media
Checking out a potential date’s social media will help you get a better sense of who they are, but reaching out to a mutual friend could help you get an even better understanding of the person you’d like to go out with.
While you’re checking out your match’s social media for red flags, take a look at your mutual friends to see if you have any friends in common. If you keep your location settings local, chances are you’ll find at least one or two.
When/if you find a mutual friend, reach out and explain the situation. You might be surprised at how helpful their information could be.
5. Share your location with a friend before your date
Once you’ve decided to go on a date with your match, you’ll still need to take some additional precautions to ensure your safety. Going out during the day and meeting at a busy location are pretty standard tips. If you’d like to take it one step further, you can enlist the help of your smartphone.
Share your location with a friend or a family member before you head out on your date. Odds are they won’t need to use it, but it’s worth it to take this extra precautionary measure just in case. You can find out how to share your location on an iPhone here. For Android users, you can find a guide here.
Although dating apps have their benefits, it’s important to consider their potential drawbacks and properly prepare for them. If you have a tip you’d like to share with other readers, comment below.